As Vice Chair of ILMI, I am delighted that as a Disabled Person’s Organisation that we are participating the Global 16 Days of Action Campaign. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Global 16 Days Campaign.
The campaign aims to raise awareness about violence against women and girls. The statistics in relation to Gender based violence are shocking. Almost one third of woman and girls globally experience gender-based violence over their lifetimes.
Given the intersection of systemic inequalities experienced by disabled women and girls it is sadly not surprising that disabled women are more likely to experience sexual violence. Research has shown that disabled women are four times more likely to experience sexual violence and face forced sterilisation or abortion often without their informed consent. Many disabled women depend on the perpetrator for their daily care or even survival.
It is vital that as a DPO that ILMI takes part in the 16 Days of Action. Living free from violence and abuse is fundamental to quality of living and an independent life. Through our consultations with disabled women for our observations on the State United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCDPRD) report, it was noted that there was a dangerous and unacceptable shortage of support services for disabled women accessing urgent supports. Rape Crisis Centres and Women’s Aid are not equipped to deal with the additional needs disabled women present with. Lack of accessible spaces and inadequate equipment were noted as two areas preventing access to such services. The lack of accessible spaces further demonstrates the additional barriers disabled women and girls face if they experience gender based violence.
As a DPO we need to create conversations about the impact of gender-based violence on disabled women and girls. We need to commit as a DPO to continue to create safe spaces for disabled women to come together. We need to ensure that our collective policy papers inform the creation of accessible, inclusive supports for all women and girls.
Our participation in the 16 Days Campaign represents our first time as a DPO being part of the campaign to raise awareness among disabled women and girls but also to ensure any conversation about gender based violence hears our voice. We must ensure that “Nothing About Us Without Us” extends to every aspect of life, including discussions about the safely and dignity of all women and girls in Irish society.
Selina Bonnie, ILMI Vice Chair.